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Kidnappers of Canadian women demanded $800k ransom - Prosecution

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
The accused persons leaving the court premises
The accused persons leaving the court premises

It has emerged that the suspected kidnappers who held two Canadian women captive in Kumasi demanded $800,000 from their families as ransom for their release.

This came to light when six of the suspects were put before the Accra High Court yesterday.

Two others, who were part of eight suspects, originally arrested in connection with the kidnap case, are on police enquiry bail and did not appear in court.

The two were the driver of the vehicle used to abduct the Canadians and the owner of the car.

The Prosecutor, Ms Hilda Craig, a Senior State Attorney, revealed to the court that apart from demanding the $800,000 as ransom, the suspects also smeared blood on the faces of the two girls to show their seriousness.

“In order to create an impression to their families that they had been seriously tortured, the accused persons smeared blood all over the victims and on the floor of the building. They took pictures of the blood-soaked victims and forwarded same to their families in Canada to compel them to pay a ransom of $800,000,” the prosecutor told the court.

Accused persons

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The six accused persons who were arraigned yesterday included three Nigerians - Sampson Aghalor, aka Romeo, Elvis Ojiyorwe and Jeff Omarsar.

The rest - Yusif Yakubu, Abdul Nasir and Seidu Abubakari, aka Mba - are all Ghanaians.
They have been accused of playing various roles in the kidnapping of Miss Lauren Patricia Catherine Tiley and Miss Bailey Jordan Chilly, two Canadians, who were in Kumasi to participate in a youth programme.

All the accused persons have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, while Aghalor, Ojiyorwe, Omarsar and Yakubu, have been charged separately with two counts of kidnapping.

The accused persons have been charged with kidnapping.

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Remand

At Friday’s hearing, the plea of the accused persons were not taken.

Rather, following a plea by the prosecution, the court remanded them into the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

Ms Craig submitted that investigations into the case were still ongoing and, therefore, the police would need the accused persons to assist with the investigations.

Counsel for Abubakari, Mr Nii Quei Amasah, did not oppose the plea by the prosecution but he urged the court to reduce the remand period from three weeks as requested by the prosecutor to a week.

“The resources of the state are huge and, therefore, they can finish investigations within a reasonable period of time,” he argued.

In response, Ms Craig contended that the one week was not enough for the police to complete their investigations due to the complexity of the case.

The court, presided over by Justice George Buadi, decided to remand the accused for two weeks.

Hearing continues on July 1, 2019.

Kidnapping plot

The facts of the case as presented by Ms Craig were that, Aghalor who had been in Ghana for some time became a friend to Yakubu in March 2019.

In the course of their friendship, Aghalor brought up the idea of kidnapping as a lucrative venture, an idea that was accepted by Yakubu.

Yakubu agreed to assist Aghalor in the kidnapping activity and even helped him to procure a pistol.

To bring their idea into fruition, the prosecutor said, Aghalor went to Nigeria in May 2019 and recruited Ojiyorwe and Omarsar to be part of the gang.

According to her, the three Nigerians, upon their arrival to Ghana, resided at Ashaiman for some time before they went to Kumasi to meet up with Yakubu.

When they got to Kumasi, Aghalor, who was the leader of the gang, gave some money to Yakubu to hire a car, an apartment and also buy pistols and other items to enable them to carry out their kidnapping activities.

Kidnapping of Canadians

Ms Craig said on June 4, 2019, the gang, in a car, accosted the two Canadian ladies, who had boarded an Uber taxi at their hostel at Nhyiayeso, a suburb of Kumasi.

“They were accosted by the gang when they arrived at their destination and alighted from the Uber taxi. Aghalor, Ojiyorwe, Omarsar and Yakubu assaulted the victims and forced them into their vehicle amid shooting.

They then sped off with their victims to their hideout, which was in an uncompleted building at Kenyasi Krobo, another suburb of Kumasi,” the prosecutor added.

During their captivity, Aghalor contacted the families of the two women and demanded a ransom of $800,000.

Rescue

Ms Craig told the court that on June 11, 2019, a National Security team, led by Colonel Micheal Opoku, and acting on intelligence, arrested Yakubu.

Afterwards, the team proceeded to arrest Aghalor, Ojiyorwe and Omarsar at their hideout at Kenyasi Krobo and rescued the two women.

“During the rescue mission, Ojiyorwe and Omarsar threatened to kill the victims if the security agents dared them. They exchanged fire with the security agents until they were overpowered and arrested,” she said.

The prosecutor added that Aghalor, Ojiyorwe, Omarsar and Yakubu mentioned Nasir and Abubakari as members of the gang and the two were subsequently arrested.

Read also: No ransom was paid in exchange for the kidnapped women.